From the light-laden and airy to the dark and grove-heavy through the atmospheric, the pulsating and the pummelling to the textural, the cutting, and the elegantly carved, what Pelican have long been doing without words is astonishing. This is a band that has taken the time to come to know their music through establishing a deep dialogue with their instruments and between each other so that its distinct and eloquent voice can continue to grow, to develop, to almost take on a life of its own.
When guitarist and founding member Laurent Schroeder-Lebec departed amicably in 2012 and Dallas Thomas stepped in, Pelican have since embraced the chemical impact that this significant change had upon the band. While 2013’s Forever Becoming may not have been quite what they wanted it to be because of including Thomas in the writing before he had become a fully integrated member (though it’s still great record), since then, Pelican have found and established the common ground between the four members. 18 years into their career, Pelican have returned with the intriguingly entitled Nighttime Stories.
And it is heavy. But given the events that have given shape to the album, that’s no surprise. Says guitarist Shelley de Brauw, “We were halfway through writing the album when a significant portion of the country signaled that they were ready to publicly embrace totalitarianism, bigotry, and white supremacy, and the resulting dread and anger we experienced had a considerable effect on the shape of the material that followed.” Couple this with the tragic loss of Jody Minnoch, vocalist of Tusk, in 2014, and the passing of Thomas’ father – whose initials make up the title to the opening track – and the impact on the music is more than apparent.
Evidently, the time between this and the previous album have been spent exploring the music that inspired them as well as poring over what it is exactly that underpins and fuels Pelican because in Nighttime Stories can be heard a band drawing on all that it has known and standing its full height. With angst and anger burning brightly, so too shines the light of wisdom. A more-than welcome return from the band and one that should be enjoyed as intensely as the forces that contributed to its creation. Masterpiece.
Words by Jason Guest
- Released by Southern Lord on 7 June 2019
- Midnight And Mescaline
- Abyssal Plain
- Cold Hope
- It Stared At Me
- Nighttime Stories
- Artreies Of Blacktop
- Full Moon, Black Water